So this is communism?

Trip Start Feb 26, 2006
Trip End Sep 16, 2006

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Friday, May 26, 2006

I'm a bit confused by all of this. What's with all the lights? The hustle? The gigantic neon Hyundai advertisement on the side of the skyscraper? Is that a red and yellow hammer-and-sickle flag on that lamppost?

First let's erase all those cold-war stereotypes from your head.

Here in Ho Chi Minh City (the pre-war name was Saigon), there are no squat concrete buildings, boiled potatoes and elderly babushka-wearing women trudging through hip-deep snow drifts.

What you do find is that most people have enough food to eat. There are no mile-long lines outside of the McDonalds. (Oh wait, there aren't any McDonald's... but there's a KFC, and no lines there.) Everyone seems to be an entrepreneur... selling something, anything-- be it food, knicknacks, streetside massage, shoes and clothing. Many of the buildings are French designed, with arches and beautiful tall windows. You can buy incredibly delicious, freshly brewed (and strong!) coffee on every corner for about 50 cents. Fresh baguettes are everywhere.

Welcome to the contradictory face of modern communism.

We are immediately impressed by the palpable presence of a country with a real infrastructure. This is still a developing country with problems as such, but now that we've been here we will never make the mistake of lumping all of the third world countries together as if they all are fishing out the same problems from a communal lot. Were I forced to make a choice, I'd be Vietnamese over Cambodian-- hands down, game over, no contest. The people here are happier, more optimistic. Still likely to rip you off for being a foreigner, but that's part and parcel of the southeast Asia experience.

We stayed with a delightful woman named Allyson, an english teaching Aussie expat and member who shared her beautiful townhome with us for upwards of a week. She was a fantastic host and was great company, providing us with the kind of detailed and quirky perspective that you can only get from a western expat living outside the bounds of conventional western society.

Thanks again Allyson!
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allyson on

You're welcome!
Hi Adam and Eva

Thanks for the update on Vietnam... I'm about to go read up on your adventures since leaving here. You're welcome back any time!


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